ROSEAU, Dominica – The Dominica government has sought to re-assure citizens that every step is being taken to safeguard their health as the island Tuesday welcomed the first cruise ship since the borders were closed as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, speaking on the state-owned DBS radio, said that most people who were expressing fears that the visitors on the cruise ships could be carriers of the virus, have not been vaccinated and “therefore it is important for them to get vaccinated to add this armor in our defense”.
He said that while a vaccinated person could contract the virus, that person however, would most likely not be seriously ill or having to be ventilated.
“The reality is at some point you have to open up and as we recognize from the advent of this pandemic we have always in a responsible manner gradually open up the economy and carefully giving consideration to this. The protocols are in place and ideally if every one of us and every stakeholder follows the protocols we should be fine,” Skerrit said.
He said while nothing is 100 per cent full proof “there is always a risk t we have tried to put things in place to mitigate against the risk and so it is important for all of us to recognize and to adhere to the protocols….
“I think it is an experimental action on our part. The reality is the people in the tourism industry have suffered in a dramatic way. Vendors have not made a dollar since last year in terms of their trade. Tour guides, taxi operators, so I think it is a good day for them. Let us keep our fingers crossed and let us see how it goes.”
Skerrit said that the authorities will evaluate and assess the situation “and equip ourselves for more cruise ships coming to our country.
“I have spoken to a number of stakeholders and one can hear the excitement and the relief finally there is the possibility they can make money again,” he added.
The Seabourn Cruise Line vessel arrived here with 135 passengers and tourism officials said that only vaccinated passengers will be allowed to disembark and proceed on tours on the island.
Tourism Minister Denise Charles said the approved COVID-19 protocols for Dominica reinforce the strict adherence to measures such as; temperature checks, mask wearing, hand sanitization, safe distancing and importantly safe practices for vending and tours.
She said based on the protocols, only those who are certified will be allowed to interact with cruise visitors and only organized or pre-sold tours will be permitted as an initial measure for limiting co-mingling and maintaining social distancing while the visitors enjoy the experience of the nature island.
Dominica has registered 209 positive cases and no deaths from the virus since the first case was detected in March last year.